Photo Credit: Craig Howell, Wheeling Intelligencer
The PEIA Task Force Listening Tour continued Saturday in Weirton.
A recurring issue brought up in the Listening Tour stops seems to be the increase in costs and reduction in benefits that Teachers and State Employees have been fighting for years.
From The Wheeling Intelligencer:
A running theme Saturday was the limitations PEIA places on those who live close to other states. Several said if they try to get medical services outside West Virginia, even if the doctor is part of their network, they have to pay higher rates — if the insurance covers the service at all.
“We should be able to have our choice to go across the river to a doctor, or go to Pittsburgh for a doctor,” said Mary Beth Carpenter.
Some pointed to having to pay thousands in medical bills because they sought treatment in Steubenville or East Liverpool.
Karen Randolph said she had to go to a particular doctor for a medical procedure and had to pay higher rates.
“He’s the only doctor for this in 50 miles,” she said.
Larry Jones noted problems with the pharmaceutical coverage in the PEIA program, saying they are required to get 90-day prescriptions for medication. He said PEIA, while it does go out for bid, needs to do better at attracting other plans and encouraging competition for health care providers.
“Force them to get the best that we can,” said Jones.
Andrea Mercer said her son, who has autism, is no longer covered by PEIA. She said she had to put him on the state health plan in order to continue seeing his doctor.
Paul Billiard, a retired educator and football coach, noted he and his wife continue to see increases in their costs from PEIA. He said he knows there is no easy fix to the problem.
“We got to a point we just quit worrying about it and paid it, because that’s all we could do,” said Billiard. “It’s almost etched in stone, it’s been here so long.”
As a retiree, Billiard said he doesn’t have the opportunity for an increase in pay to help meet some of the higher costs.